What It's Like Living With Both Depression And Anxiety

Having Depression And Anxiety Means Having A Brain Constantly At War With Itself

Torn between caring too much and not caring at all.

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I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2016, the two "common colds" of mental illness. Don't let that nickname fool you, though, because there is nothing common about the way these two work together to completely disrupt how my brain functions.

Sometimes, my brain seems to alternate between depressive and anxious episodes. I feel like I'm always trading off one for the other, rarely experiencing a "good" day where both remain relatively quiet. If my anxiety isn't kicking into high-gear, my depression is, and vice versa.

But oftentimes, these two demons will sync up together, both awakening from their slumbers simultaneously to go to war with each other with the intention of making my life a personal living hell.

Anxiety and depression essentially function as opposites to each other. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but generally, anxiety can be understood as an overactive mind and depression as an under-active mind. I have mostly learned how to cope when one or the other takes over, but what continues to challenge me is when the two strike at the same time.

Anxiety wants me to get up. If I don't get up, someone will be disappointed, or I'll miss a deadline, or everyone will think I'm lazy, or I'll just keep spiraling and spiraling and spiraling.

Depression doesn't let me get up. If I get up, I'll have to fake a smile at everyone, or I'll just hurt more people, or I won't be able to focus because who can focus on anything when everything you do feels utterly meaningless?

When both flare up at the same time, I'm rendered totally and completely useless. Although my mind may be going a million miles a minute and I want nothing more than to be productive so I can ease some of the tension of worrying over my responsibilities, I physically can't bring myself to get up. I can't move forward because for every racing thought, there is a rope holding it back.

It hurts my head — it feels like my brain is literally pushing against my skull with nowhere to go. It's dizzying and disorienting; and most of all, it is endlessly frustrating. It makes the simplest tasks impossible and I just want to scream at myself "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST DO THE THING?"

Dealing with the guilt is the hardest part because there's nothing I can do but feel every painful sting of it. I WANT to be able to just function properly, but I can't, and it makes me feel like the world's biggest failure of a person.

Objectively, I know my brain is sick and that makes doing some things more difficult for me. But even so, I cannot escape the crushing weight of guilt for not being able to act like a "normal" person who can just DO "normal" things. There's a siren going off telling me to get my responsibilities done, but there's also a voice shouting that nothing I do matters so just roll over and die already, and the noise inside my brain leaves me completely paralyzed.

I'm still learning how to cope with when these two opposing forces in my head go up against each other. All I've really learned is that there's nothing to do but go through it. I try to be gentle with myself, remembering that there are chemicals out of place in my brain and I am not a bad person for that. Speaking kindly to yourself when you're fighting mental illness is a lot easier said than done, but I'm trying.

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10 Bible Verses for Self Esteem

Sometimes you need to search for inner strength and find your own self worth.
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We all get those days that we just don't feel good enough for anything. Everything is going wrong. For me, I go to the bible to read the words of God. His personal dialog for us is filled with encouragement, hope, and lessons we can learn from. Here are my top ten verses that are uplifting and impacting when at the lowest of lows:

1. Philippians 4:13:

I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.

2. Psalm 46:5

God is within her, she will not fall.

3. Proverbs 31:25

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

4. Psalm 28:76

The Lord is my strength and my shield.

5. 1 Corinthians 25:10

By the grace of God, I am what I am.

6. Romans 5:8

I loved you at your darkest.

7. Psalm 62:5-6

Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on Him. God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe, and he is the fortress where I feel secure.

8. 2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

9. 1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

10. 2 Chronicles 20:15

The battle is not ours, but God's.

Cover Image Credit: chinadaily

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Fight And Flight, How I Conquer My Emotional Battles

In times of high threat and peril, science says our innate response usually follows one of two paths: fight or flight.

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snele1
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Like almost any other concept related to humans, the idea of "fight or flight" boils down to either/or, one over the other, choice A or choice B. This seems logical, as science also says we can't actually multitask as humans. We may think we can manage multiple tasks simultaneously, but we're inevitably occupied by one thing at a time. Now, depending on each person, the response to any given situation might vary. Someone might feel courageous enough to stay and "fight," while someone else may deem it wiser to make like a bird and take "flight."

Regardless, this concept revolves around a definitive choice, a choice of just one response, not both.

While I agree with this concept as it is, I've come to think that, in some areas of life, we can manage both. We can fight, but we can also take flight. Although fight or flight generally refers to physical threats/obstacles, I think the fight and flight apply on an emotional/mental front.

This past weekend was quite a whirlwind, blowing my emotions in all kinds of directions, which is really what prompted me to think about my emotional response to the weekend as a whole. As a bit of important background, I'm not a crier by nature. I just don't cry in public/ in front of others. Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with crying in public. It's a perfectly human response. No book, movie, song, or the like has ever moved me to tears. (Well actually, the movie "The Last Song" with Miley Cyrus did cause a stream of tears, but that's literally one out of a decade.)

Enough about that for now, though, I'll make mention of it again later.

I think this past weekend's deluge was an unassuming foreboding of the flood of emotions that came pouring in on Sunday. The day began like any other Mother's Day, we opened gifts with my mother before heading to my aunt's for a family lunch. Only once we arrived, I was informed that my other aunt, who's like a second mom to me, lost her beloved Shih Tzu of 14 years, Coco. We all knew that Coco's time was likely limited, but it still seemed sudden. I was a bit rocked by the news, but ultimately knew she had given life a run for its money. After all, I like to joke that if I come back, it'd ideally be as a house dog.

Needless to say, the suddenness of it all wouldn't really hit me till later that afternoon.

Fast-forwarding to the evening, we decided visiting my other grandmother would be a nice gesture on Mother's Day. Although she was still out and about, my house-ridden grandfather was there, and so we decided it'd be nice to stay and visit with him. A bit more background, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years ago, so we've unfortunately watched him slowly decline since the diagnosis. As such, this is where things went on a steep downhill slide. We arrived mid-nap, which subsequently meant waking him from his nap to visit. In hindsight, it seemed like a very poor choice, as when he awoke he seemed completely disoriented and largely still asleep.

It was as if his eyes were awake, but most everything else about his body remained asleep.

We stayed only but 12 or 15 minutes, as it didn't prove useful to stick around any longer. Enter the flight of my emotions. I've known my grandfather wouldn't be the same every single time I visited. I've dreaded but prepared for the time when he wouldn't remember us, or wouldn't be able to communicate with us the same. As much as I thought I'd be unphased when it happened, I wasn't. At the time, I tried to shuffle through other thoughts. I tried to jump to the upcoming things for the week and what I needed to take care of next. I wanted my mind to float off till my emotions wouldn't be so strong.

That's where I believe the flight response happens for me. When I'm face to face with an emotion-laden experience, whether it's sadness, frustration, or whatever, I try to shift my thoughts away from what's stirring them up. My mind takes flight. Maybe, that's why I don't cry in public. I don't allow my mind to focus long enough to conjure up a physical response.

My mind never stays in flight for long, though. I wouldn't say I'm scared of the emotions, rather I just need them to calm down or settle before I can pick them apart. I tend to process my feelings internally, but they never go unchecked or un-analyzed. That's why, even though I typically don't show my emotions in public, my throat still tightens up and my eyes still become glassy behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, this is where the fight response shows up. Except, I wouldn't say this is so much a fight, even if the situation can be a sort of emotional battle. It's more of a coming-to-terms. I know that I can't outrun my feelings, and I don't ever intend to. At some point, I let them catch up to me, and then the sorting process can begin. It's usually not that tumultuous like a real fight would be, but it doesn't mean that the emotions don't present a challenge at times.

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